Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Comics: Not just for laughs!

The effective use of comics ...

"Every project has its own unique set of “opportunities”—also known as challenges. Many of these challenges relate not to the quality of our work, but rather to the communication of our ideas. Often in the course of design, you must communicate complicated concepts to a non-technical (and often uninterested) project sponsor, client, or stakeholder. So how do you capture their interest, get their understanding and buy-in, and finally move on?

A Real-Life “Opportunity”

I work as a user experience designer on an interactive team at a mid-sized strategic communications firm, Capstrat, based in Raleigh, NC. One recent web project presented our team the opportunity to communicate using comics. We were redesigning a family of more than 120 individual franchisee websites into one common web strategy, look and feel, and information architecture (IA). The challenge (“opportunity!”) was that governing umbrella organization had never enforced any kind of control over the web and the brand had been fractured by an inconsistent online user experience.

Our team was faced with getting consensus from a committee of more than 40 individuals, all with equal interest and many with their own motives. We knew getting buy-in from this hugely diverse group on the design for the new common web strategy and CMS was essential.

At the time, we were prepping for an international presentation where we would unveil new website designs, information flow, and shared CMS strategy. After the presentation, a Q&A session and formal vote were planned; the outcome would determine if and how proceeded with the project. We had some difficult concepts to communicate to a large audience in a limited amount of time. In just 30 minutes, we had to cover:

• The overall look and feel of the new websites

• How external users would move through the website to complete common scenarios

• How the site design would maintain brand and structure consistency when propagated out to more than 120 individual sites while still offering flexibility to accommodate each website’s individual needs

• How a non-technical administrator for each of the individual websites would engage and interact with a CMS to set up and maintain their site

We knew that presenting wireframes or flow diagrams to such a large group had the potential to be disastrous, but we also recognized that presenting flat visual design screenshots would leave too many unanswered questions. That’s when we considered the idea of using comics."    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows)    [Usability Resources]

Comics Illustrating Progression of Time - Usability, User Interface Design

Comics Illustrating Progression of Time

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